Don't overspend on seasonal produce! We've got all the tips and tricks you need to stay stocked up and on budget. Plus, we're sharing some of our favorite recipes, so none of your fruits or veggies go to waste!

woman at the grocery store shopping for seasonal produce, from Shelf Cooking

If you've ever felt confused or overwhelmed by all things fresh produce, then we get it! Keeping track of what to buy, when to buy it, and when to use it is a chore in itself. Not to mention cooking it all! Well, now's the time to learn a few fun facts about seasonal produce! We've done ALL the research, so you don't have to.

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We're going to break down buying fruits and vegetables by season and month, and we'll share a few tips for finding the best deals. Oh, and we've got tips for freezing, storing, and using up your fresh produce, too. Consider this your ultimate guide/cheat sheet. Go ahead and press that “bookmark” button and let's do this!


QUICK TIPS FOR BUYING PRODUCE

friends shopping for produce at farmer's market, from Shelf Cooking

Besides knowing which produce is in season, what else should you know when you're shopping for fresh fruits and veggies? Here are some insider tips for finding the best deals and the freshest produce:

  • Shop on Wednesday – Wednesday is a great time to cash in on the best grocery deals, especially when it comes to produce! Grocery stores change sales cycles on Wednesday, so any leftover produce they need to sell will get marked down.
  • Head to the Farmer's Market – Buy local, and you can save a ton! By getting your veggies straight from the farm, you can avoid paying a markup.
  • Buy in Season – It turns out, buying in season doesn't just ensure you get the freshest food; it also allows you to save money! Why? Because produce that's out of season has to be shipped in, and customers end up eating those costs.
  • Try a Subscription Box – Organic produce can get pretty dang pricey, so if eating organic is important to you, it may be worth it to consider a subscription box! Misfits Market, for example, sells imperfect produce for up to 40% off.

Now, speaking of buying in season, how the heck do you know when all your faves are in season?! Well, we're glad you asked. Let's go over the staples, season by season.


THE BEST SEASONAL PRODUCE TO BUY IN WINTER

Did you think the warmer months were the only good times to buy fresh produce? Think again! There are plenty of fruits and veggies that are ripe for the picking during winter. Stock up on these goodies to make soups, desserts, and more.


BEST PRODUCE YO BUY IN DECEMBER, JANUARY, FEBRUARY

  • Broccoli
  • Artichoke
  • Cauliflower
  • Cabbage
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Turnips
  • Spinach
  • Radish
  • Celery
  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Oranges
  • Lemons
  • Grapefruits

THE PERFECT WINTER RECIPES FOR YOUR FRESH PRODUCE

bowl of broccoli cheddar soup, from Shelf Cooking

Now, what can you make with those fresh fruits and veggies? Here are a few ideas:

Any of these recipes are perfect for winter! Ready for spring? Let's talk about the best seasonal produce to scoop up in March, April, and May.


THE BEST SEASONAL PRODUCE TO BUY IN THE SPRING

We sure do love spring! The longer days, the warmer temps, and the yummy produce! Some of our favorite fruits and veggies are in full bloom during the spring months. Here's what you should buy.


THE BEST PRODUCE TO BUY IN MARCH, APRIL, & MAY

  • Leeks
  • Lettuce
  • Mushrooms
  • Pineapples
  • Rutabagas
  • Turnips
  • Asparagus
  • Radishes
  • Spring Peas
  • Apricots
  • Cherries
  • Strawberries
  • Okra
  • Zucchini
  • Swiss Chard

RECIPES TO TRY USING SPRING PRODUCE

making strawberry jam with fresh seasonal produce, from Shelf Cooking

Want to try some new recipes with that spring fruits and vegetables? We have a few suggestions:

  • Strawberry Freezer Jam – Go ahead and buy those berries in bulk. What you don't eat, you can turn into some killer freezer jam. That stuff is seriously our jam!
  • Buttermilk Biscuits – Since you're making jam, you might as well make some biscuits! Try our 3-ingredient buttermilk biscuit recipe. They're just like the ones grandma used to make!
  • Chicken Alfredo – Add some asparagus to your chicken Alfredo to make it more colorful! It's a delicious combo of flavors.
  • Cream of Mushroom Soup – Stop buying the canned stuff and learn how to make your own cream of mushroom soup. You'll never go back!

Now, time for summer! Bring on the juicy fruits and sides for grilling.


THE BEST SEASONAL PRODUCE TO BUY IN SUMMER

When you think summer, you probably think corn on the cob and watermelon. But what else should you snag during those warm-weather months? Here's a list of seasonal produce that peaks in the summer.


PRODUCE TO BUY IN JUNE, JULY, AND AUGUST

  • Blueberries
  • Corn
  • Cantaloupe
  • Kiwi
  • Mango
  • Peaches
  • Strawberries
  • Watermelon
  • Zucchini
  • Blackberries
  • Cucumbers
  • Green Beans
  • Summer Squash
  • Butternut Squash
  • Figs
  • Peppers
  • Plums
  • Raspberries
  • Tomatoes
  • Eggplant

SUMMER RECIPES TO TRY

Fire up the grill and get the ice cream ready! Summer produce is perfect for a backyard cookout. Besides ice cream sundae toppings and veggie kabobs, what are some fun ways to use summer produce? Here are a few ideas:

  • Peach Cobbler – If you don't bake a peach cobbler this summer, you are missing out! Be sure to dust off that ice cream maker and make some of our homemade ice cream to serve on top.
  • Fruit Salad – All that fresh fruit is begging to be used, and when whipped cream is involved, no one will complain! Try our easy fruit salad recipe.
  • Boiled Green Beans – No recipe required! We like to boil ours with a little chicken broth, butter, salt, pepper, and some bacon bits. Measure with your heart!
  • Black Bean & Corn Salsa – This is one of our favorite dips, and it's even better with fresh corn! Head to our sister site, Fun Cheap or Free, to grab the black bean and corn salsa recipe.

Alrighty, time for fall, y'all! What should you buy during spooky season? We've got all the deets!


THE BEST SEASONAL PRODUCE TO BUY IN FALL

Falling leaves, spiced cider, and pumpkins give us all the feels. Aside from apple picking and pumpkin carving, what do you need to know about the best seasonal produce to pick up in the fall? Here's your cheat for September-November.


BEST PRODUCE PICKS FOR SEPTEMBER, OCTOBER, & NOVEMBER

  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Grapes
  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Butternut Squash
  • Apples
  • Spinach
  • Winter Squash
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Cranberries
  • Leeks
  • Tangerines
  • Oranges
  • Turnips
  • Swiss Chard

RECIPES TO TRY

Want to make something festive for that fall feast? Try one of these recipes using in-season fruits and vegetables:

  • Cranberry Dip – Goodness, this stuff is GOOD, you guys! Who the heck needs cranberry sauce when you can make cranberry cream cheese dip instead? Our sister site, Fun Cheap or Free, has the BEST recipe.
  • Harvest Salad – Slice some apples and butternut squash and serve them on a bed of spinach. Top with goat cheese, pecans, and homemade vinaigrette.
  • Sweet Potato Casserole – Your Thanksgiving dinner will not be complete without a hefty serving of this sweet potato casserole.
  • Butternut Squash Soup – Our butternut squash soup recipe is the world's easiest! Grab it from Fun Cheap or Free.

Now you've got more than 16 recipes to try, plus a ton of knowledge about seasonal produce. What, what? Next stop: Jeopardy!

Before you go, find out how you can store all that fresh produce, so it lasts longer. You want to get your money's worth, right?!


TIPS FOR STORING SEASONAL PRODUCE

assembling freezer smoothie packs, from Shelf Cooking

No one likes throwing away food. It's almost the same as throwing out money. Just talking about it hurts. Don't you worry, though! These tips and tricks for storing your vegetables and storing your fruits will help them last a bit longer:

  • Keep Produce Dry – It might sound odd, but moisture is the enemy of fresh produce.
  • Keep Produce Cool – Most fruits and vegetables last MUCH longer when you store them in the refrigerator. So, if you know you won't eat them all right away, go ahead and put them in the fridge.
  • Use Paper Towels – Line your produce drawers with paper towels to absorb any extra moisture. It makes cleanup easier, too. Win, win!
  • Preserve What You Can't Use – Make jam, or drop your fruits and veggies in smoothie packs for the freezer. You can also freeze chopped fruits in ice cube trays for a fun, refreshing summer beverage.

Pro Tip: When in doubt, chances are you can freeze your produce before it turns! Check out our running list of all the things you can freeze.


Now you know how to score the best deals on produce and when to buy your favorite healthy foods! Farmer's market trip, anyone?!

We'd love to know what your favorite fruit or veggie is! Drop us a comment or stop by our Shelf Cooking Facebook group.

learn when to buy seasonal produce and how to save, from Shelf Cookikng

Looking for more cooking or shopping hacks?

Keep calm and carrot on!